Texas Tech University

TTU Opera Theatre Presents: Don Giovanni

Anna K.

March 29, 2023

Image of Mozart's Don Giovanni

He is handsome, charming, smooth-talking, sly, and romantic. No woman can resist him. Those who catch his eye find him intoxicatingly attractive. He is the legendary Don Juan, or as Mozart created him, Don Giovanni. The Texas Tech Opera Theatre and University Symphony Orchestra brings Mozart’s masterpiece Don Giovanni to life!

On March 31 and April 1 at 7 PM, the Texas Tech Opera Theatre and University Symphony Orchestra will perform Mozart's Don Giovanni in the Buddy Holly Hall – Helen Devitt Jones Theater. These performances will be under the baton of Maestro Lanfranco Marcelletti, Jr. and directed by Professor Gerald Dolter who will also feature as the Commendatore!

Retiring from academia this 2023 spring semester, the production of Don Giovanni will be the last production directed by Professor Gerald Dolter, Director of TTU Opera Theater. In our interview with Professor Dolter, he shares with us about his time here at TTU and on the production of Don Giovanni.

Image of students rehearsing Don GiovanniPhoto Credit: Karina Dozal

Gerald Dolter has been a TTU Professor of Voice for 28 years, with 25 of those years as Director of TTU Opera Theater. He and his family moved to Lubbock in 1995. With the plan of staying here for only two years, Lubbock drew him in. Dolter shares that it is because of the people that are here. “They make you want to stay, it's the relationships. Mostly what it's been, in the University there certainly have been battles along the way, but artistically, the university has never gotten in the way of saying that I couldn't do something.”

During his time here, his highlights were when his students' performed works that he has dreamed of, giving them the opportunity and experience to perform to their potential. The people who have started their TTU Opera Theater experience have made careers. Recently two of his former students, Kathleen Felty and Norman Garrett, met each other in the rehearsals for Chicago Lyric Opera's current production. They didn't know each other until they met each other in the production and took a selfie and sent it to Professor Dolter. It amazed him and made his heart full that his students from different generations can connect and make relations, “we end up finding and meeting each other.”

Image of students rehearsing Don GiovanniPhoto Credit: Karina Dozal

His dearest memories were of the late Tim Walsh, Technical Director of Scenic Designer for the TTU Opera who retired in 2020.  “We worked beautifully together. It's too bad that Tim isn't around for this production (in the Buddy Holly Hall), so I dedicated this production to him. He will be irreplaceable.”

To be able to perform an opera production by the TTU Opera Theater in the Buddy Holly Hall of Performing Arts and Sciences is a dream that has finally come true. The opportunity to perform in this state-of-the-art theater will be one of the most fulfilling works that students in this production may experience.

The biggest challenge for these vocal students is not only the acting and the singing, but the language itself. While there will be subtitles of the translations above stage, students will be singing in Italian. It is special to perform in the original language that a composer chose to do. Dolter shares with us that he feels like Mozart pulled out all of the stops artistically.

Image of students rehearsing Don GiovanniPhoto Credit: Karina Dozal

“The more that I'm around the score... the music is genius! You see clues, throughout the score. Clues on production. Just by listening to the music all over again, listening to what the orchestra does, the little things the orchestra comments to the stage... They're just playing notes, but what the notes mean- that's been a challenge that students have been waking up to!”

Image of Mozart's Don Giovanni and Gerald DolterTo watch to the full interview with Dr. Gerald Dolter, click the image above.

Voice students and faculty have been preparing for the opera since January! The voice students have been living in daily rehearsals and lessons in learning Italian, acting, and singing. In these events, the majority of the practice time is with piano. The vocalists and orchestra only get SEVEN rehearsals with each other before the opera! To aid the limited time with the orchestra, Maestro Lanfranco Marcelletti Jr. participates in coaching the singers on their Italian, tempi, and the emotion needed to perform this piece. By doing this, Marcelletti was able to provide the set tempi to the orchestra for efficient rehearsals. Marcelletti shares with us the journey of the orchestra's preparation:

“Unfortunately, this year, because Don Giovanni is so big, we didn't get to have all the rehearsals we wanted... Essentially, we've only done 10 rehearsals... It's amazing at what the orchestra does, because by the time we get to the dress rehearsal in the theater, we've only done each piece ONCE. I told them I will have to treat them like a professional orchestra, because it's just too many.”

Because of the limited time with using the Buddy Holly Hall, the two opera casts only had 48 hours (Monday 3/27 and Tuesday 3/28) to completely prepare the three-hour long opera before their ONE-TIME dress rehearsal with the orchestra (Wednesday 3/29 and Thursday 3/30). Like professionals, both opera and orchestra students have been working to a high level of musicianship to achieve the artistry to perform on Friday and Saturday evening!

For more exciting adventures and inside scoops of the production, follow Texas Tech Opera Theater and Texas Tech Orchestras on Facebook and Instagram!

We hope you can attend one of the nights on the production of Mozart's Don Giovanni by the Texas Tech Opera Theatre and University Symphony Orchestra! Admission for TTU students are FREE with a valid ID. For general admission, tickets are available at The Buddy Holly Hall website.